Business assurance: How CSPs can transform
As CSPs enter a new era of their development, how can Business Assurance deliver the enterprise-wide transformation needed to remain competitive, profitable, and innovate at speed?, says Ashwin Menon, product head, Subex.
The environment that Communication Service Providers (CSPs) have been trading within for the past decade has seen massive change. Legacy services have been replaced with new dynamic content-driven platforms that consumers demand. As CSPs look towards their post-pandemic futures, there’s a shift away from Revenue Assurance (RA) to Business Assurance (BA).
Previously, CSPs had effectively used RA to interrogate their business systems to identify revenue leaks. A RAG survey report has indicated that out of the total operational leakage value, revenue and cost leaks are 28.5%, which is almost double the cost of fraud. This highlights a massive portion of leakage coming from non-fraud losses.
Over time, identifying the source of the revenue losses delivered tangible benefits to CSPs who could track individual customer events to reveal potential issues that may adversely impact their revenue streams. In addition, using data analysis enabled CSPs to build a sophisticated tracking system to reduce the revenue leaks they were experiencing.
However, it has become abundantly clear that RA has significant diminishing returns. The telecoms market has transformed, and with it, increased competition has meant traditional RA systems could not recover the reductions in per-user revenue being experienced by CSPs. A new approach was needed. This need has resulted in BA, which is delivering new opportunities to CSPs.
Business Assurance is an evolution of RA and reflects a marketplace that has significantly changed. Where voice previously reigned supreme, today CSPs must offer a myriad of additional services and have become Digital Service Providers (DSPs). In practice this means that legacy RA is no longer a purposeful fit. Instead, what is needed is a business-wide view of not just the CSPs systems and processes, but also a more comprehensive view of customer expectations.
Before the pandemic, every business had a digital transformation strategy none more so than CSPs who could see how their enterprises needed to evolve rapidly to support customer demand. Post-pandemic, these plans are being re-drawn.
What CSPs need is not only a detailed understanding of their business operations, but also, how each component, from billing to regulatory compliance, must be efficiently managed to protect and develop new revenue streams.
Today successful CSPs are data-driven businesses. The key is to connect what are often siloed data sources into integrated dynamic data sources that can be used to support new initiatives and innovation.
However, using data as an asset offers even more fundamental advantages: Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems can be enhanced. For example, revenue accounting can become significantly more efficient and streamlined to reveal unearned revenue previously unidentified. And critical system components such as fraud management, margin assurance, and financial integrity can all be transformed with BA.
The business case to adopt a data-first stance is now in focus. The Harvard Business Review reported that 89% of survey respondents say analysed data is essential to an organisation’s innovation strategy. The tools needed to use this information are available and bring potentially transformative efficiency and enable innovations. For CSPs, understanding their business’s goals and then using these tools to achieve them is a central foundation of BA.
Placing BA at the centre of innovation also supports Customer Experience (CX), a significant brand differentiator. According to research from NTT Data, over 80% of organisations agree that CX offers a competitive edge, with 58% of respondents stating CX is their business’s primary differentiator. In this scenario, how these vital relationships are managed is critical. Here, the enterprise-wide reach of BA is vital, as BA systems connect business processes together to deliver seamless professional and outcome-driven services for customers.
CSPs realise that their market landscape is rapidly changing: how their business reacts to these changes means having an end-to-end overview of their business processes. This overview enables the identification and mitigation of risks, and of course, protects existing revenue streams and helps in developing new ones.
It’s important to appreciate that BA is not another term for RA. The depth with which BA is connected to every business system from customer-facing to supply chain requires a fundamental shift from established practices. For some CSPs, this is a difficult transition to make but one they must complete to remain competitive in a marketplace that is rapidly evolving.
CSPs are constantly looking to improve their efficiency and remove risk. To create testing systems and scenarios that will help CSPs identify risk, they are increasingly adopting advanced automated systems such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and more specifically Machine Learning (ML). Moreover, these same systems can also be utilised to help CSPs innovate and remain leaders in their market sectors.
AI will impact innovation across all the markets that CSPs are active within. Also, the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) space will become vitally important to CSPs. Gartner predicts that one-third of all companies will have implemented an IoT strategy that will include AI components by next year. Here, BA comes into its own to ensure CSPs have the systems in place to oversee and leverage these technologies.
To architect a prosperous post-pandemic future, CSPs understand that they must change. To orchestrate those changes, some CSPs will undergo radical alterations in how they operate. Business Assurance is the key to potentially unlocking many new avenues of innovation and revenue. Where RA focused on revenue leakage, BA offers an integrated and holistic approach that CSPs can use to transform their businesses.
The author is Ashwin Menon, product head, Subex.